The school system in America has long been an issue of discussion and debate amongst people everywhere. The discussions and debates often stem from evaluating the current educational system in order to determine if significant social issues, including increasing regional poverty and declining literacy rates in specific urban regions are related to economic differentiations in the educational system. Many policy analysts have considered the issue of educational funding allotments in order to determine a system that provides greater equity between socio-economically disadvantaged inner-city schools and wealthier suburban, middle class schools (Kozol 83). The foundation for the necessary funding changes have stemmed from the recognition that school funding differences relate directly to sociological issues, including the creation of a cycle of poverty and illiteracy in under funded urban settings.
One of the most significant issues raised in public education in recent years is the radical difference that exists in funding levels between wealthy and poor school districts (Zuckman 49). Many states have allotted educational funding related to tax revenues, and this has determined a higher level of educational spending in wealthy neighborhoods and a much lower level of spending for inner-city poor and rural poor communities (Zuckman 49). The differences in these educational settings have had a direct impact on the outcomes for students. Because a positive educational setting is a direct indicator of the capacity of a person to develop into a productive citizen, it has been determined that only with sufficient funding can public schools offer the educational process necessary to determine positive outcomes. Thus this policy analysis action report will explore the question: “What are the funding problems with the disadvantaged inner-city schools and what can be done to fix them?”
Funding for public schools in general, is shifting from the federal level, to the state, county and city level, resulting in a need to consider the process by which funds are directed and integrated into public education. The complications with this shift in funding are defined as: “A fundamental trade-off between equity and efficiency objectives in the provision of public education that underlies the political tensions inherent in altering school funding responsibilities” (Duncombe and Johnston 145).
Money can often determine political action in America, and politicians fight hard at both the local and national level for the increasingly scarce education dollars. Unfortunately, poverty seems to breed societal problems, and the children and public schools of these poor districts need this education funding in order to break this cycle of poverty and societal problems.
Often in poor areas, schools do not get as much money per student as in areas that are more affluent because funding is based on the area’s tax base. Simply put, because poor residents pay less in taxes because of their lower incomes, they get less in social services, including the social service that is public education. Socio-economically disadvantaged students and those who come from school districts of lower income status populations, struggle for financial equity in the education. A number of schools allocate additional education funding based on taxpayer dollars by regions, additional financial support often encourages the discrepancies between school programs in relatively poor neighborhoods, towns or cities when compared to their wealthier counterparts (Harrison 1997).
Despite efforts to create equitable finance systems in many states, and enormous local tax efforts in many poor communities, funding gaps continue to be a serious problem. “In 41 of 50 states, poor districts receive less total funding than wealthy districts. (12) In 14 states, including Illinois, the minimum funding per student is less than half of the state average. (13) Localized equity initiatives clearly do impact funding disparities, but most states have been ambivalent (at best) towards finance reform” (Johnston 20). Many of those states that have implemented strategies designed to attain funding equity have done so under legal or political duress. Suburban voters, whose children tend to benefit from inequitable school finance, represent a majority of voters in this countrymore than urban and rural voters combined. Without overt political or legal pressure legislators will certainly continue to cater to their largest constituency.